Button History

20th Century

Bakelite

Bakelite, invented in 1907 by a Belgian, Leo Baekeland, is referred to as the "jewel among plastic materials". It is considered to be the first "perfect" synthetic material because of its strength, beauty and brightness. Bakelite is easy to process that it has been employed in the manufacture of a host of everyday items including automobiles, radios, telephones, stationery, tableware, and cosmetics items. Initially, bakelite could only be made in dark colours, but the 1930s saw the development of light-coloured bakelite. This material was creatively utilised in jewellery, accessories, buckles and buttons, and was seen as a happy combination with the Art Deco taste of that period. The transparent bakelite, called "apple juice colour", which discoloured in time, has today become a sought after collectors' item.

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